Karachi: BCCI vice-president Rajeev Shukla Sunday made it clear that there is no possibility of Pakistani players becoming a part of the lucrative Indian Premier League until and unless there is a resumption of bilateral cricket ties between India and Pakistan. Shukla said there was no campaign or hatred against Pakistan and he himself felt sad that Pakistani players were not featuring in the IPL.
"No one is against Pakistan or Pakistani players in India or else we would not have allowed Pakistani commentators or umpires in the IPL 5 season," Shukla told Geo News channel in an interview. "The reality is that everything is tied to the resumption of bilateral cricket ties between the two countries. Once that happens I think everything will happen automatically."
Shukla, who is also the IPL chairman, made it clear that the IPL was a sub-committee of the BCCI and not an independent body. "The IPL functions under the BCCI and when bilateral relations resume between the two boards the IPL will also not be a problem for Pakistani players," he said. Shukla said that BCCI and Pakistan cricket board were in constant touch over the resumption of bilateral ties. "We are in touch with them and I must say the PCB and its new chairman have made all the right moves to get the ball rolling. But until something definite happens It would not be proper for me to comment on when we can resume playing cricket again," he said.
Shukla, however, said Pakistani people should be patient and wait for two or three months and some developments will take place. "If we talk about the Champions League then just wait and see for a few months," he said hinting that Pakistani T20 champions Sialkot Stallions might get a chance to feature in the lucrative competition later this year. "I don't think we should be pessimistic about Indo-Pak bilateral relations but remain optimistic."
Shukla, however, made it clear that the main blocks towards resumption of bilateral ties were the hectic international calendar of the Indian team and also the fact that no foreign team is presently willing to tour Pakistan because of security concerns. "The hectic international schedule of the Indian team is an issue and we have to see and find a slot for even the Pakistan team to tour India," he said.
"Secondly and more importantly the PCB needs to do something and convince other cricket nations at the level of the International Cricket Council that it is safe and secure to play in Pakistan."
Shukla said the security situation in Pakistan was a stumbling block towards resumption of bilateral cricket ties.
"The PCB has been doing a lot of work to show everyone that it is safe to play in Pakistan but they need to do more and get the support of leading nations like Australia, England and South Africa," he said. He made it clear that while the PCB had made several proposals to the BCCI to play a bilateral series at neutral venues but the BCCI didn't want this. "We feel that it is no use if both countries play at a neutral venue. It serves no purpose. If we play it must be in each other's countries. Whenever that happens. We have no problems touring Pakistan but first the PCB needs to win the confidence of the ICC and member boards."
Shukla, a seasoned politician, was well aware of the role cricket could play in bringing the two countries closer. "I know how powerful a role cricket can play. I saw that in 2004 when India played in Pakistan. That series led to a lot of friendship between the people of both countries. Unfortunately some incidents derailed this process."
Shukla said while it was good to see both countries easing restrictions in the entertainment industry, no time frame could be given for resumption of bilateral cricket ties. "Let me tell you we all know that some Pakistani players have special talents and everyone likes to see them play. But we need to be patient and wait for good things to happen," he said.